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Flames May Need To Adopt A Why Bother Approach To Season

With fewer and fewer opportunities to earn points and lock up a playoff spot, the Calgary Flames continue to be the most maddening and inconsistent NHL contender. Gearing up for a run that may not be possible makes little sense.



During a tumultuous time for the Calgary Flames franchise, with a fan base teetering on a thin line between fragile and furious, there are few things that could have restored some sense of confidence on Thursday night. 

Perhaps a confidence-building blowout of the visiting Detroit Red Wings.  

That went out the window by the end of the first 40 minutes, with the Wings taking advantage of a trademark lack of Flames discipline to score a pair of powerplay goals in the second frame. Those doubled their evening’s total, turning a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 before the final intermission began.

Still, a good old-fashioned Flames comeback could have raised the Flames faithful from their fits. 

Surely, they’re due for a rally. 

Not on this night. No, the Calgary Flames gave up the next goal, too — three straight in total — and with a 5-2 loss, extended their record to 0-12-2 when trailing after 40 minutes this season. 

That says it all. There just isn’t enough fight in this group, which can look like a world beater one night and a lottery draft contender the next. 

“We’ve been a rollercoaster all year," Calgary Flames defenceman Chris Tanev said in a depressing post-game scrum. "Good one game, suck the next. Good one game, suck the next. That’s on the leaders in here."

This is the only team in the NHL that does’t have a third-period comeback to its credit this season. Dillon Dube continued his hot streak with his fourth goal in three games to make it 2-2. Elias Lindholm started things off with a shorthanded marker. But the Flames did little to prevent Robby Fabbri, Dominik Kubalik (2), Tyler Bertuzzi and Pius Suter from making this an insurmountable third-period lead. 

Head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t even bother pulling his goalie for an extra attacker in the final few minutes. I mean, why bother?

That could be the Flames mantra the rest of the season. 

Why bother? 

Why bother buying as the NHL trade deadline approaches? Bringing in another scoring forward isn’t going to move the needle enough to make up for the goaltending woes, the defensive disarray. 

Why bother playing the older, slower, fourth liners who are just preventing some of the younger players and prospects from developing more quickly at this point?

The answer is the same as it’s always been in a hockey city cursed to perpetual mediocrity. 

Flames ownership has no appetite for a rebuild. Never has, maybe never will — at least as long as the current group is in charge. 

Despite two thirds of a season spent flailing like a fatigued new swimmer looking for a floaty to cling to in an ocean full of teams more cohesive, if not more talented, this Flames team is more likely to part with its assets to bring in depth skaters than look to peddle anyone of any value in the lineup for future success. 

On Thursday night, playing at home for the first time in weeks, the players embodied the Why Bother attitude. 

“I think there was a lack of emotion in our game,” said Sutter. “A concern of mine is after long trips. Seen it a lot this year.

“That’s a little bit of the leadership of the group.”

Considering the comments from his players, you can bet Sutter shared that concern with his group post-game as well. It was no coincidence the players trotted out for the media were the two players Sutter said earlier this season were essentially co-captains. 

Tanev tried to fall on the sword on their behalf.

“I’ll take responsibility. I’m supposed to be one of the leaders. Need to play with more emotion. It’s my fault,” said Tanev, looking miserable. “I’m supposed to be a leader so I’ll take responsibility for not having anyone ready. It’s my fault.”

Plenty of blame to go around. But this isn’t new. 

“It’s a must-win game. We needed to win the game and we lost to the same team twice in a week. We need to be better anywhere.”

Why bother?

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